While several past and present county officials paid tribute to retiring County Auditor Karen Flynn at a reception on Monday, two of the three hopefuls paid tribute to the person they’re hoping to succeed.
Chief Deputy Auditor Walt Washington and Poulsbo attorney Sara Lingafelter were among the visitors who offered Flynn, who leaves office on March 28, their best wishes.
The third candidate, Deborah Broughton, did not attend the event.
By state law, when a Democratic county office holder steps down in mid-term, the Kitsap County Democratic Party is required approved three candidates to relace him or her, from which the county commissioners will select one until a special election can be held in November.
Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown said he has met with all three candidates and has come to a conclusion. North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer and South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel are scheduled to meet with the candidates this week.
A selection is expected next week, which must occur at a public meeting. Brown said he did not expect to conduct any further interview sessions.
“We have three great candidates,” Brown said. “The unfortunate part is that we can only pick one, so the concern is how we can keep the other two involved in county government.”
Washington, 61, has received Flynn’s endorsement, although the commissioners say that all three candidates will receive fair consideration.
He admits that Flynn, who has served 21 years in the office, will be a hard act to follow. Washington, however, will not preside over a similar dynasty, and could commit to one full term after 2010.
“I’ll see how I feel, and how the county feels about me,” he said.
While he concedes he likely would not be able to match Flynn’s impact, he promised to continue her emphasis on good customer service. He said his own priorities will be outreach and sustainability.
“This year we will see a tremendous voter turnout,” he said. “Once you get people registered, how do you keep them voting? I want to keep people engaged, and I don’t know how to do that yet.
“The voter pamphlets, which Karen established,” he said, “are a great thing. We need to keep people informed. This is an exiting time in our lives, on the presidential level. I think the 2012 election will be as exciting, but we need to be doing something to keep people engaged during the off years.”
Lingafelter agrees, saying “there are ways to enfranchise voters to improve turnout and make the process more available. Some of this will be through technology.”
Lingafelter, who at 31 is about half Washington’s age, doesn’t think she is too young for the task, noting that “Josh Brown is in his 20s.”
She has dual talents in law and technology that she feels will be essential to the auditor’s position.
My technology experience will be an asset to this office,” she said. “I have done strategic planning and know how to talk to engineers and tech guys. There is still a lot of diligence to be done as voting technology changes, and necessary vetting to determine whether a particular solution is the right choice.
“Having a legal background will help me oversee compliance issues,” she said. “Much of what this office does is driven and dictated by statute.”
If Washington is not selected, he said he will probably run for the office in the fall. If Lingafelter is not selected, she will work to elect the nominee.
Broughton has not decided what she will do if she is not selected.